Live Updates: 2021 Men's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship
Cal vs Texas, Part X
As Ruey mentioned in his preview, this meet has basically become the annual Cal-Texas showdown. Every year, it feels like we say this will be the closest one yet and for the first time in awhile, Cal is the defending champion. So, follow here as we update you all in the clash of titans—sports’ greatest rivalry of the 2010s (I kid…).
Top 5 Team Scores (Final Standings)
Saturday Finals Updates
Barring something unexpected like a Texas relay DQ, Cal will just be racing for a bunch of individual NCAA titles in this Saturday night session. Nonetheless, it will not be a shock, should the Bears win four NCAA titles in this session and for senior Ryan Hoffer to earn the Swimmer of the Meet honor if he can take a 3rd NCAA title in 100y Free to go with 50y Free and 100y Fly.
Sean Grieshop takes Heat 2 with a solid 14:48.98 that should be good enough for some points. Tyler Kopp got lapped by Grieshop and will not earn any points in his first NCAA Championship. Grieshop ends up 14th overall.
Zach Yeadon finished 6th, just ahead of Texas’ David Johnston.
Bears got 6th (13 pts) and 14th (3 pts) while Texas got 7th (12 pts), 9th (9 pts), and 13th (4 pts).
Cal freshman Destin Lasco had the slightest lead going to the last 25 yards ahead of Shaine Casas of Texas A&M, but Casas won in the end. It was still a very good result for the Bears who went 2nd - Destin Lasco (1:35.99), 3rd - Bryce Mefford (1:38.31), 4th -Daniel Carr (1:38.86), and13th - Colby Mefford (1:40.64).
Texas finished 5th and 6th.
Ryan Hoffer gets his 3rd NCAA title of this meet by winning the 100y Free with a time of 40.89 just ahead of the two Longhorns who tied for 2nd ahead of Bjorn Seeliger.
Texas with their T2, T2, and 14th ended up outscoring Cal’s 1st and 4th by 1 point.
Another close call for a Cal Bear. Reece Whitley just got edged by Minnesota’s Max McHugh. Bears do go 2nd (Whitley) and 3rd (Gonzalez) ahead of Texas’ Corbeau who finished 4th.
In the B-Final, Dare Rose finished 6th and two spots ahead of Texas’ Alvin Jiang.
In the A-Final, Trenton Julian was ahead for almost the entire race but Louisville’s Nicolas Albiero had a better final turn to edge the Cal senior. I cannot help but see the disappointing parallel between this race, the Lasco near-miss in 200y Back, and the Whitley near-miss in 200y Breast with Cal’s overall near-miss in the team title.
Texas freshman Andrew Harness finished 10th overall for 7 points. Jordan Windle apparently missed on one dive and only finished 4th.
Texas only leads Cal by 37 points going to the final event. There is still a slight chance for a Cal team championship!?!? Bears just need to win the 400-yard freestyle relay (40 points) and have Texas score 0 (most plausibly due to a DQ).
400-yard freestyle relay
The Bears had to win their heat and the quartet of Bjorn Seeliger, Ryan Hoffer, Destin Lasco, and Hugo Gonzalez got it done by squeezing past Florida.
Cal’s time was better than those of every team in heat 5, including Texas. Alas, the Texas Longhorns did NOT DQ and will win the NCAA team championship.
Saturday Prelims Updates
Compare to 2019, Cal actually has the same amount of team points going into Saturday. However, they are behind by 42 points rather than ahead by 43 points.
Cal Golden Bears got three into the 200y Back A-Final (Lasco as the top seed, Bryce Mefford as the 4th seed, Daniel Carr as the 5th seed) and one into the B-Final (Colby Mefford just sneaking in at 16th) BUT Texas Longhorns also have two A-Finalist (Carson Foster, Austin Katz) to limit the potential point gain by the Bears in this event. Colby Mefford and Sebastian Somerset, who ended up 24th, did not match/beat their seed time.
The Bears will have another top seed for tonight as Ryan Hoffer obliterated the pool record en route to take the top seed. Bjorn Seeliger will join him in the A-Final as the 4th seed. Of course, Texas really wants this championship as well and havs countered the Cal duo with their own A-Finalists duo of Kiebler and Krueger. Texas also got Staka into the B-Final.
Three events down this morning and a third Cal Bear will be the top seed tonight. Reece Whitley got the top seed and will be joined in the A-Final by teammate Hugo Gonzalez (6th seed). Texas just will not concede too many points by placing one A-Finalist (Caspar Corbeau) and two B-Finalists (Braden Vines and Jake Foster).
Trenton Julian, the Pac-12 champ, got the 2nd seed in 200y Fly tonight. Freshman Dare Rose just got into scoring position with the 16th best time. Texas will have a guy in each final to race the Bears with Sam Pomajevich (5th seed) and Alvin Jiang (15th seed).
In some way, this morning went about as well as can be expected for the Cal Bears, qualifying 8 A and 2 B swims for tonight. Sadly, Texas nearly matched the Bears with their 6 A and 4 B finalists. Longhorns have to get a disastrous platform diving session to give Cal a shot.
There will also be the 1650y Free this afternoon where Cal should get points from Sean Grieshop and Zach Yeadon (it would be a very pleasant surprise if Tyler Kopp can find his way to the top-16), but Texas may match with the results from David Johnston and Alex Zettle.
Friday Finals Updates
400-yard individual medley
Junior Hugo Gonzalez ended up with the fastest time of the evening (3:36.73), but after being relegated to the B-final, he only came away with nine points and ninth place. Senior Sean Grieshop finished in third-place with a time of 3:38.73. While his 16 points are super valuable, it didn’t stop Texas from overtaking Cal in the overall team race with their 2nd-5th-6th-8th place finishes in this race. Those 55 points are incredible given that they had 0 points in this event 2 years ago. Congratulations to Grieshop on yet another top-5 finish!
Congratulations to junior Ryan Hoffer on his 2nd individual national title! His time of 44.25 led an incredibly fast A-final as every swimmer was below the 45-second barrier. Texas scored 22 points (to Hoffer’s 20) in the event though, which increased the deficit to 5 points.
Senior Trenton Julian added another top-three finish to Cal’s evening with a time of 1:31.55, which added another 16 points to the Bears’ total. Like Grieshop earlier in the session, those 16 points can only do so much when Texas has the 2nd-4th-8th-14th place finishers for a total of 46 points. In any case, congratulations to Julian another top-three finish!
Despite being Cal and Texas’ weakest events throughout their decade-long battle, they each had an A-finalist in this race. In what has become the theme of the evening, junior Reece Whitley finished in 3rd-place with a time of 51.03. Texas’ Casper Corbeau finished in sixth (notably swam the same time in prelims and finals as his seed time, go figure), which gave Cal a three-point advantage in this event. Congratulations to Whitley!
Cal had 2 A-finalists and 1 B-finalist to Texas’ 1 A-finalist and 2 B-finalists and they made the best of it to cut the Longhorns’ lead to just 23 points. Claiming bronze for the Bears was freshman Destin Lasco with a time of 44.49, which is the fastest time by a freshman ever (including Cal legend and record-holder Ryan Murphy). Senior backstroke duo Bryce Mefford and Daniel Carr, who seem to always be within tenths of each other in every race, finished in 8th (45.52) and 11th (45.32), respectively. Congratulations to the trio of backstrokers!
Texas diver Jordan Windle does a phenomenal job of getting stronger with his performance throughout the competition. They added an additional 23 points here bringing their lead to 46 points.
200-yard medley relay
With the benefit of seeing what Texas did in the previous heat, Cal had a perfect opportunity to knock off 12 points in the deficit. Instead, Cal finished 3rd—a theme for the evening that most would be happy with but not the Bears—in their heat (and third overall) with a time of 1:22.43, just .03 away from second. Cal closes the gap by 4 points, finishing off the evening down 42 points.
Thursday Finals Updates
200-yard freestyle relay
Bjorn Seeliger, Ryan Hoffer, Daniel Carr, and Nate Biondi got it done with a time of 1:14.36. Seeliger and Hoffer, the two fastest Bears who will race in the 50y Free later tonight, gave Cal the lead until Biondi, in his only event this week, was just able to hold off Florida to preserve the win.
Nate Biondi talked to ESPN after the Cal victory and credited his teammates.
Texas finished behind Florida for 3rd in this heat. The Longhorns ended up 6th overall. This gives the Bears the temporary team race lead after two events.
Trenton Julian went out fast and had the lead until the last 50 yards. Julian ended up 4th (4:09.78) just ahead of Texas’ Drew Kibler. Sean Grieshop (4:11.82) earned 7th place. Georgia freshman Jake Magahey, the top seed, won this race with a time of 4:07.97.
In the B-Final, Zach Yeadon cruised to the win (4:11.37) to earn 9 points. The two Texas Longhorns finished 7th and 8th for just 3 points total.
200-yard individual medley
Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas ended up winning this event with the time of 1:39.53. Still, Cal has got to be content that the duo of Hugo Gonzalez (1:39.99) and Destin Lasco (1:40.01) both finished ahead of Texas’ Carson Foster (1:40.99). Both Gonzalez and Lasco set new personal best in this event.
In the B-Final, 3 Cal Bears and 3 Texas Longhorns raced for points. Bears finished 1st (Bryce Mefford), 5th (Daniel carr), and 6th (Reece Whitley) for 16 points. Texas got 2nd (Jake Foster), 4th (Vines), and 7th (Corbeau) for 14 points.
Ryan Hoffer earned the win with an 18.33 that is the 10th fastest time ever! Better yet, Bjorn Seeliger took 2nd with 18.71! The Golden Bears took the maximum possible points in this event. It is also promising for Cal’s future that Seeliger, the freshman from Sweden, may be able to take over this event next year from the senior Hoffer.
Hoffer also won the 50y Free back in 2019 as well as helping the Cal Bears to the 2019 200y Free relay national title. What else happened in 2019? The Cal Bears won the team NCAA title, of course.
Looking back on the 2019 NCAA Championships, Cal also had Andrew Seliskar winning the 200 IM and Sean Grieshop finishing 2nd in 500y Free. Nonetheless, the 2021 Cal Bears should outscore the 2019 team by the end of Day 2 (212 points through 7 events), thanks to the improved depth.
The Longhorns answered Cal’s 1-2 in 50y Free with their own 1-2 in 1-meter diving. Senior Jordan Windle finished ahead of freshman Noah Duperre. Another freshman Brendan McCourt earned one point by placing 16th overall in the consolation final.
Texas diving is in great shape to continue to be a pest in the near future.
400-yard medley relay
Destin Lasco (backstroke), Reece Whitley (breaststroke), Ryan Hoffer (butterfly), and Bjorn Seeliger (freestyle) nearly got it, but Texas was able to win the final event of Day 2 by edging the Bears by 0.5 seconds. Lasco started slightly slow and was faster in his second 50 than the first 50. Whitley was also slightly slower than his Texas counterpart. Hoffer’s 43.80 butterfly leg split nearly got the Bears even, but Seeliger was not able to match Texas’ Krueger in the final leg.
Looking ahead to Friday AKA “Moving Day”:
Hoffer’s fly split is very encouraging for Friday’s 100y Fly. Lasco’s back split and Whitley’s breast split are less so. Nonetheless, I think Lasco and Whitley now know that they might need to go a bit more full out on Friday morning to secure A-Finalist spots in 100y Back and 100y Breast.
While Hugo Gonzalez will battle Texas’ Carson Foster in 400y IM to make that even, 200y Free and 3-meter diving may be big point events for the Longhorns. A lot of the Bears really stepped up on Thursday to earn points, Cal need to keep doing that on Friday — we shall see if the underclassmen: freshmen Dare Rose (100y Free), Tyler Kopp (400y IM), Bjorn Seeliger (200y Free) and sophomores Colby Mefford (200y Free), Sebastian Somerset (100y Back) can find their way into the finals. The entire tone of the Friday prelim session could be set by Tyler Kopp and/or Chris Jhong earning their first career NCAA points by making the 400y IM B-Final.
Thursday Prelims Results
Both Cal and Texas outperformed the psych sheet in a big way on Thursday morning, qualifying nearly all of their swimmers entered across the three events: 500y Free, 200y IM, and 50y Free. The swimmers from the two programs are really pushing each other to be the best. Better yet, the Cal Bears got a clear advantage heading into Night 2.
In 500y Free, the Golden Bears qualified 2 A-Finalists (Sean Grieshop as 4th seed, Trenton Julian as 6th seed) and 1 B-Finalist (Zach Yeadon as 12th seed). The Longhorn will have 1 A-Finalist (Drew Kibler as 5th seed) and 2 B-Finalists (Zettle and Larson). Texas nearly had more point scorers in this event as they got the 17th, 19th, and 21st fastest swimmers in the morning.
Five Bears and four Longhorns are in line to score in tonight’s 200y IM. Cal got 2 A-Finalists (Destin Lasco as the top seed and already a pool record, Hugo Gonzalez as 3rd seed) to just 1 for Texas (Carson Foster as 4th seed). In the B-Final, three Bears (Bryce Mefford, just missing out on the A-Final by 0.09 second, Daniel Carr, and Reece Whitley) will race three Longhorns (Jake Foster, Corbeau, and Vines).
For the fastest event of this meet, Ryan Hoffer and Bjorn Seeliger are the top and 3rd seed in 50y Free. Hoffer already set a new pool record with his prelim swim to make a big statement to the field. Texas’ Daniel Kruger did make the A-Final as the 7th seed to join the two Bears. The B-Final for this event will be the only race tonight without any Cal nor Texas swimmers.
In total, the Cal Bears will have 6 A-Finalists and 4 B-Finalists to Texas Longhorns’ 3 A-Finalists and 5 B-Finalists. The Bears should have a lead by the end of tonight, despite the four Texas divers in the 1-meter springboard event. The 200y Free and 400y Medley Relays could go to either team (or Florida, Louisville, Indiana, Georgia). This has all the ingredients of a fun session for Cal fans.
Diving Updates: As an answer to Cal’s great morning, Texas divers qualified 2 A-Finalists (the expected Jordan Windle and freshman Noah Duperre). They also got a B-Finalist but freshman Brendan McCourt only picked up 1 point as the 16th overall place finisher).
Including diving, the Cal vs. Texas scorers are essentially equal: 6 A and 4 B for the Bears, 5 A and 6 B for the Longhorns. Who will lead at the end of Night 2 will be determined by who will win events.
Wednesday Finals Updates
800-yard freestyle relay
In what is probably Cal’s weakest relay, the quartet of senior Trenton Julian, senior Daniel Carr, freshman Destin Lasco, and senior Bryce Mefford finished in second-place—a one spot improvement on their seed. That’s an extra two points for Cal while Texas finished in first (they were also the top seed). Congratulations to the 800-yard freestyle relay squad!